After 1,300 of the military’s satellite units went down last week, Ukraine’s worries about its personnel possibly losing access to Elon Musk’s Starlink internet service grew, according to two people familiar with the situation who was quoted by CNN.
Musk’s SpaceX satellite dishes have been lauded as a revolutionary communication tool for the Ukrainian military, enabling it to fight and remain online even if mobile phones and the internet were destroyed during the conflict in that country.
Concerns arose over SpaceX’s reliability, however, as financing conversations were made public and disruptions were noted close to the front lines.
CNN was the first to reveal that in September, SpaceX wrote to the Pentagon to inform it that it could no longer continue to support Starlink in Ukraine since it had already spent close to $100 million on such efforts.
The letter urged that the Defense Department assume greater responsibility for supporting Ukraine’s military, which it said would cost tens of millions of dollars each month to operate.
Days later, Musk reversed his position and said that SpaceX will continue to provide free financing for Starlink in Ukraine, stating he was unable to continue supporting the project.
We’ll simply keep providing free financing to the Ukrainian government, Musk said in a tweet.
According to a senior military official, talks between the Defense Department and SpaceX persisted despite Musk’s assertion that SpaceX withdrew its proposal.
On Wednesday, Musk was in attendance at a ceremony celebrating the establishment of the United States Space Force. Other notable attendees included the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley.
The most wealthy guy in the world is involved in a contentious Twitter purchase. Neither Musk nor SpaceX replied when contacted for comment. Furthermore, neither the Defense Ministry nor the Ukrainian government responded right away.
The most recent disruption, which started on October 24, was called a “major disaster” by the Ukrainian military.
The terminals had been unplugged since there wasn’t enough money. 1,300 terminals in a block were impacted. The block was utilized for military-related activities after Ukraine purchased it from a British corporation in March.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, SpaceX paid Ukraine’s military $2,500 a month to maintain each of the 1,300 terminals linked, bringing the total to over $20 million by September. They would eventually not be able to pay it, the source said.